Family name origins & meanings
- Chinese : from the name of Kang Shu, the eighth son of Wen Wang, who was granted the state of Wei (see Wei 3) soon after the founding of the Zhou dynasty in 1122 bc. Many of his descendants later adopted Kang as their surname. Another source of the name comes from the Kang Ju tribe, who moved into China from central Asia during the Han dynasty (206 bc–220 ad), and adopted their tribal name, Kang, as their surname.
- Chinese : variant of Geng 2.
- Korean : there are five Chinese characters for the surname Kang. Some records indicate that there are as many as one hundred separate Kang clans, but only four have actually been documented. There is one Chinese character for each clan. The fifth character is an alternate character for the smallest of the Kang clans, and is the result of a scribal error which was introduced in 1908. That segment of the smaller Kang clan which was labeled with the alternate character still uses it and recognizes it as the character for their surname. The largest clan, the Kang family of Chinju, first appears in the historical record in ad 597. Many members of the largest Kang clan still live in the area of Chinju of Kyŏngsang Province. The second Kang clan is centered on Cheju Island. The two smaller Kang clans have only a few households in all of Korea.